Google Search Operators: The Complete List (44 Advanced Operators) (2024)

Google Search Operators: The Complete List (44 Advanced Operators) (1)

Joshua Hardwick

Head of Content @ Ahrefs (or, in plain English, I'm the guy responsible for ensuring that every blog post we publish is EPIC).

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Contents

    Google advanced search operators are special commands and characters that filter search results. They do this by making your searches more precise and focused.

    For example, the site: operator restricts results to those from a particular site:

    Google Search Operators: The Complete List (44 Advanced Operators) (3)

    In this post, you’ll learn all of Google’s search operators and how to master them forSEO.

    Below is a brief description of what every Google search operator does.

    I’ve grouped them into three categories:

    • Working – Works as intended.
    • Unreliable – Not officially deprecated by Google, but results are hit-and-miss.
    • Not working – Officially deprecated by Google.

    Here’s the fulllist:

    Working

    Search operatorWhat it doesExample
    “ ”Search for results that mention a word or phrase.“steve jobs”
    ORSearch for results related to X orY.jobs ORgates
    |Same as OR:jobs |gates
    ANDSearch for results related to X andY.jobs ANDgates
    -Search for results that don’t mention a word or phrase.jobs -apple
    *Wildcard matching any word or phrase.steve *apple
    ( )Group multiple searches.(ipad OR iphone) apple
    define:Search for the definition of a word or phrase.define:entrepreneur
    cache:Find the most recent cache of a webpage.cache:apple.com
    filetype:Search for particular types of files (e.g., PDF).apple filetype:pdf
    ext:Same as filetype:apple ext:pdf
    site:Search for results from a particular website.site:apple.com
    related:Search for sites related to a given domain.related:apple.com
    intitle:Search for pages with a particular word in the titletag.intitle:apple
    allintitle:Search for pages with multiple words in the titletag.allintitle:apple iphone
    inurl:Search for pages with a particular word in theURL.inurl:apple
    allinurl:Search for pages with multiple words in theURL.allinurl:apple iphone
    intext:Search for pages with a particular word in their content.intext:apple iphone
    allintext:Search for pages with multiple words in their content.allintext:apple iphone
    weather:Search for the weather in a location.weather:san francisco
    stocks:Search for stock information for a ticker.stocks:aapl
    map:Force Google to show map results.map:silicon valley
    movie:Search for information about amovie.movie:steve jobs
    inConvert one unit to another.$329 inGBP
    source:Search for results from a particular source in Google News.apple source:the_verge
    before:Search for results from before a particular date.apple before:2007-06-29
    after:Search for results from after a particular date.apple after:2007-06-29

    Sidenote.

    You can also use the _ operator, which acts as a wildcard in Google Autocomplete.

    Unreliable

    Search operatorWhat it doesExample
    #..#Search within a range of numbers.iphone case $50..$60
    inanchor:Search for pages with backlinks containing specific anchor text.inanchor:apple
    allinanchor:Search for pages with backlinks containing multiple words in their anchor text.allinanchor:apple iphone
    AROUND(X)Search for pages with two words or phrases within X words of one another.apple AROUND(4) iphone
    loc:Find results from a givenarea.loc:”san francisco” apple
    location:Find news from a certain location in Google News.location:”san francisco” apple
    daterange:Search for results from a particular daterange.daterange:11278-13278

    Not working (officially dropped by Google)

    Search operatorWhat it doesExample
    ~Include synonyms in the search. Dropped in 2013.~apple
    "+"Search for results mentioning an exact word or phrase. Dropped in2011.jobs +apple
    inpostauthor:Search for posts by a specific author in the discontinued Google Blog Search.inpostauthor:”steve jobs”
    allinpostauthor:Same as inpostauthor:, but removes the need for quotes.allinpostauthor:steve jobs
    inposttitle:Search for posts with certain words in the title in Google’s discontinued Blog Search.inposttitle:apple iphone
    link:Search for pages linking to a particular domain or URL. Dropped in 2017.link:apple.com
    info:Search for information about a specific page or website. Dropped in 2017.info:apple.com
    id:Same as info:id:apple.com
    phonebook:Search for someone’s phone number. Dropped in 2010.phonebook:tim cook
    #Search for hashtags on Google+. Dropped in 2019 when Google+ shut down.#apple

    11 ways to use Google search operators

    Let’s tackle a few ways to put these operators into action.

    My aim here is to show that you can achieve almost anything with Google advanced operators if you know how to use and combine them. So don’t be afraid to play around and deviate from the examples below. You may just discover something new.

    Prefer video?

    Check out nine actionable Google search operator tips in Sam Oh’s video.

    1. Find possible indexing issues

    Eyeballing the results of a site: search for your website can uncover potential indexing issues.

    For example, if we combine it with the filetype: operator, we see that this 3D printing company has quite a few PDFs indexed:

    Google Search Operators: The Complete List (44 Advanced Operators) (4)

    This isn’t a bad thing if it’s intentional, but I have a feeling it isn’t for some ofthese.

    For instance, its site has a lead-generation landing page for a white paper about the total cost of ownership for 3D printers:

    Google Search Operators: The Complete List (44 Advanced Operators) (5)

    But this PDF is indexed, so you can easily access it without filling in your details:

    Google Search Operators: The Complete List (44 Advanced Operators) (6)

    The site owners should probably add an x-robots noindex tag to solvethis.

    2. Find and analyze your competitors

    Use the related: operator to find websites related to yours, which are often competitors.

    Google Search Operators: The Complete List (44 Advanced Operators) (7)

    You can then use other search operators to investigate these sites further.

    For example, if we search for site:moz.com, we can quickly see that it has published a lot of content on its blog, help section, and “SEO Learning Center.”

    Google Search Operators: The Complete List (44 Advanced Operators) (8)

    If we adjust our site: operator to focus on its Learning Center, we can start to get a sense of the type of content published and what it’sabout.

    Google Search Operators: The Complete List (44 Advanced Operators) (9)

    In this case, it looks like there are lots of definition-type posts.

    In fact, if we add intitle:("what is"|"what are") to our search, we see 86 matching pages.

    Google Search Operators: The Complete List (44 Advanced Operators) (10)

    However, what Google can’t tell us is whether these pages get any organic traffic. To find that out, we’ll need to use a third-party tool.

    If you’re an Ahrefs user:

    1. Go to Site Explorer
    2. Enter the competitor’s domain or subsection
    3. Check the Top pages report
    Google Search Operators: The Complete List (44 Advanced Operators) (11)

    If you’re not an Ahrefs user, you can use our free traffic checker to check pages one byone:

    Website Traffic Checker

    See search traffic estimates for any website or webpage

    Both of these methods show that many of its definition-type posts are getting in excess of 20K estimated monthly organic visits. So this could be a good type of content to create if you wanted to attract search traffic in thisniche.

    In fact, that’s exactly what we did with our SEO glossary.

    Here’s its organic traffic growth over the last few months:

    Google Search Operators: The Complete List (44 Advanced Operators) (12)

    3. Find guest post opportunities

    Most people find guest posting opportunities by searching for “write for us” pages in theirniche.

    For example, if you have a website about coffee, you can search for something like coffee intitle:"write for us" inurl:write-for-us:

    Google Search Operators: The Complete List (44 Advanced Operators) (13)

    However, as lots of people are using this method, you’ll often end up pitching the same sites as everyone else. For that reason, a better method is to find a serial guest blogger in your niche and look for sites they’ve written for.

    You can do this by searching for [topic] inurl:author/[firstname-lastname].

    For example, this search finds websites Ryan Stewart has written for:

    Google Search Operators: The Complete List (44 Advanced Operators) (14)

    You can also do this in Ahrefs’ Content Explorer by searching for [topic] author:[firstname lastname"].

    Google Search Operators: The Complete List (44 Advanced Operators) (15)

    The benefit of using Content Explorer over Google is that you can filter the results to focus on high-quality websites. Plus, not every site will use the /author/firstname-lastname/ footprint.

    For example, we can easily filter for posts from websites with a Domain Rating (DR) above 30 and an estimated website traffic of at least 5K permonth.

    Google Search Operators: The Complete List (44 Advanced Operators) (16)

    Sidenote.

    This can sometimes generate a few false positives, depending on how common the person’s nameis.

    You can even highlight results from domains that haven’t linked to you so you can prioritize getting backlinks from more websites.

    Google Search Operators: The Complete List (44 Advanced Operators) (17)

    4. Find resource page opportunities

    Resource pages curate and link to the best resources on a topic. This makes them great link prospects if you have a fitting resource.

    To find them in Google, search for: [topic] intitle:resources inurl:resources.

    For example, if you want to build links to a coffee resource, you can search forthis:

    Google Search Operators: The Complete List (44 Advanced Operators) (18)

    However, not all of these pages will be worth pitching. You’ll find that some just link to their own resources, so you’ll need to sift through them and pitch the relevant ones.

    If you want an even easier way to find resource pages, trythis:

    1. Go to Ahrefs’ Site Explorer
    2. Enter the domain of a big competitor
    3. Go to the Backlinks report
    4. Filter for backlinks with “resources” in the Ref. pageURL
    Google Search Operators: The Complete List (44 Advanced Operators) (19)

    5. Find files you don’t want in Google’s index

    You probably don’t want Google to index every file you upload to your website.

    For example, if you have PDFs behind lead magnets or content upgrades, you probably want to protect those files to prevent people from finding them on Google.

    Let’s use the filetype: operator to check for these on ahrefs.com.

    Google Search Operators: The Complete List (44 Advanced Operators) (20)

    It looks like there’s one PDF indexed, which is an old resource from2017.

    If we were bothered about people finding this (we’re not), we’d want to set this file to noindex with an x-robots header response.

    6. Find the email address of the person you want to reach outto

    People often share their email addresses on Twitter, so you can use search operators to find those tweets.

    For example, if you wanted to find Tim Soulo’s email address, you could search for any of his tweets that mention the word “email” and “gmail.com” or “ahrefs.com” (as his email address is almost certainly at one of those domains).

    If you do this, his email address pops up rightaway:

    Google Search Operators: The Complete List (44 Advanced Operators) (21)

    Further reading

    7. Find opportunities to add internal links

    Internally linking to important content from other relevant pages on your website can send it more traffic and potentially help it to rank higher in organic search.

    For example, let’s say we wanted to add some internal links to our list of SEO tips.

    If we search in Google for site:ahrefs.com/blog "SEO tips", we’ll find blog posts mentioning the phrase “SEO tips” somewhere in their content.

    Google Search Operators: The Complete List (44 Advanced Operators) (22)

    In this case, we can ignore the first result, as this is the post we want to build internal links to. But there are 99 other results mentioning SEO tips, and many of them are perfect contextual internal link opportunities.

    For instance, our guide to creating SEO content has an unlinked mention of “SEO tips,” so this is the perfect opportunity to add an internal link.

    Google Search Operators: The Complete List (44 Advanced Operators) (23)

    That said, the one downside of using search operators to find internal link opportunities is that they don’t distinguish between linked and unlinked mentions. In other words, they often find opportunities you’ve already taken advantage of.

    For example, our search found a mention of “SEO tips” in our list of SEO techniques:

    Google Search Operators: The Complete List (44 Advanced Operators) (24)

    But if we find that mention on the page, we see that it’s already internally linked:

    Google Search Operators: The Complete List (44 Advanced Operators) (25)

    If this happens a lot and you find it frustrating, sign up for a free Ahrefs Webmaster Tools account and try this instead:

    1. Crawl your website with Site Audit
    2. Go to the Internal Link Opportunities tool in SiteAudit
    3. Add your target page’s URL to the search field
    4. Select “Target page” from the dropdown next to the search field
    5. Hit the return key
    Google Search Operators: The Complete List (44 Advanced Operators) (26)

    You should see a list of opportunities likethis:

    Google Search Operators: The Complete List (44 Advanced Operators) (27)

    It tellsyou:

    • Where to link from (Source page).
    • Where to add the link (Keyword context).
    • Where to link to (Target page).

    Further reading

    • Internal Links for SEO: An Actionable Guide

    8. Find “best” listicles that don’t mention yourbrand

    Let’s say you run an email marketing tool like ConvertKit.

    If you search Google for “best email marketing tools,” you’ll find thousands of results listing toppicks:

    Google Search Operators: The Complete List (44 Advanced Operators) (28)

    Given that you probably want to be featured on these lists, it’ll be helpful to see which ones do and don’t mention you already, right? That way, you can reach out to the authors of lists not mentioning your tool and see if you can get them to addyou.

    Luckily, you can do that by appending your search with -[your business name]:

    Google Search Operators: The Complete List (44 Advanced Operators) (29)

    Alternatively, if you want an even quicker method, you can use Ahrefs’ Content Explorer.

    If you’re not familiar with Content Explorer, it’s a search engine for marketers with an index of over 11 billion pages. You can use this search to find listicles that don’t mention your brand: title:"best [whatever]" -[yourbrand].

    For example, if we look for lists of the best email marketing tools that don’t mention ConvertKit, we get 3,182 results:

    Google Search Operators: The Complete List (44 Advanced Operators) (30)

    What makes Content Explorer more convenient than Google is that you can filter the results by things like DR, estimated website and page traffic, and more. Then you can export them in a few clicks.

    For example, if we restrict the results to one page per domain and filter for websites with a DR of 30 or more, we narrow things down from 3,182 to 156pages.

    Google Search Operators: The Complete List (44 Advanced Operators) (31)

    This is a much more manageable number of websites to review and potentially reach outto.

    9. Find websites that have reviewed competitors

    If a website posts a review of a competitor, chances are it may also be willing to review you.

    Here’s how to find competitor reviews: allintitle:review ([competitor 1] OR [competitor 2]).

    For example, if we wanted to find reviews of ConvertKit competitors, we could search forthis:

    Google Search Operators: The Complete List (44 Advanced Operators) (32)

    If you like, you can add the after: operator into the mix to find recently published posts. This way, you can focus on pitching websites that you know are still active.

    Google Search Operators: The Complete List (44 Advanced Operators) (33)

    Sidenote.

    You can use Ahrefs’ SEO Toolbar to download search results.

    However, all of this is once again easier in Content Explorer because you can filter and export the results more easily.

    Here’s how to run the same search there:

    1. Choose “In title” as the search mode
    2. Search for review (mailchimp OR aweber)
    3. Filter for one page per domain
    Google Search Operators: The Complete List (44 Advanced Operators) (34)

    This gives us 2,948 results, which is a lot. So let’s prioritize our list by filtering for pages published in the last 12 months on websites that get at least 1K monthly search visits:

    Google Search Operators: The Complete List (44 Advanced Operators) (35)

    Get alerts for new competitor reviews

    Just set up a new “Mentions” alert in Ahrefs Alerts. You can use the same search from Content Explorer and filters for DR and domain traffic too.

    Google Search Operators: The Complete List (44 Advanced Operators) (36)

    10. Find relevant Quora questions to answer

    Quora is a website where people ask questions, contributors post answers, and the best ones get upvoted to thetop.

    As my colleague, Si Quan Ong, has proven, it’s a great place to build brand awareness. He’s had over 2 million views on his answers and continues to get over 25K views every month despite his recent inactivity:

    Google Search Operators: The Complete List (44 Advanced Operators) (37)

    When it comes to finding questions to answer, Quora’s search function works well. The downside is that you can only search for one topic atonce.

    As Quora uses the question itself as the URL, you can overcome this problem with this search operator: site:quora.com inurl:([topic 1] | topic 2).

    For example, if you have a health and fitness website, you can search for something likethis:

    Google Search Operators: The Complete List (44 Advanced Operators) (38)

    If you’re an Ahrefs user, you can even combine this with the SEO Toolbar to overlay traffic estimates on the SERP. That way, you can focus on answering questions that already get organic traffic.

    Google Search Operators: The Complete List (44 Advanced Operators) (39)

    Or if you want an even faster method, trythis:

    1. Go to Ahrefs’ Site Explorer
    2. Enter quora.com
    3. Go to the Top pages report
    4. Filter for results with URLs that contain particular words

    This will give you a list of relevant Quora answers, sorted by their estimated monthly search traffic from high tolow.

    Google Search Operators: The Complete List (44 Advanced Operators) (40)

    For example, one of the questions above asks whether it’s better to make a protein shake with milk or water and gets an estimated 792 monthly visits. If you can answer this question well and get upvoted, chances are hundreds of people will see your answer everymonth.

    Even better, as you can include links in your answers, these answers can send some nice referral traffic yourway.

    11. Find how fast your competitors are publishing new content

    Combine the site: operator with before: and/or after: operators to find out how much content any competitor has published in a given time period.

    For example, here’s how many posts another SEO blog published in December 2022:

    Google Search Operators: The Complete List (44 Advanced Operators) (41)

    And here’s how many it published in the whole of2022:

    Google Search Operators: The Complete List (44 Advanced Operators) (42)

    Just be aware that this operator isn’t always 100% accurate, as it includes updated pages.

    For example, the search below returns a post with January 25, 2022, attached toit:

    Google Search Operators: The Complete List (44 Advanced Operators) (43)

    But if we plug that post’s URL into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer, we see that it’s been attracting organic traffic since 2019. So it must have existed long before 2022.

    Google Search Operators: The Complete List (44 Advanced Operators) (44)

    If you’re an Ahrefs user and want a more accurate way to see a competitor’s publishing frequency, run a site: search in Content Explorer and filter for “Pages published once.”

    Google Search Operators: The Complete List (44 Advanced Operators) (45)

    Final thoughts

    Google advanced search operators are super powerful. You just have to know how to usethem.

    But I have to admit that some are more useful than others, especially when it comes to SEO. I find myself using site:, intitle:, and inurl: often. Yet I rarely use allintitle: and many of the other more obscure operators.

    I’d also add that many operators are borderline useless unless paired with another operator, or two, orthree.

    So do play around with them and let me know what you come upwith.

    I’d be more than happy to add any useful combinations you discover to thepost.

    Got questions? Ping me on Twitter.

    Google Search Operators: The Complete List (44 Advanced Operators) (2024)

    FAQs

    What are Google advanced operators? ›

    Google search operators are special characters and commands sometimes called “advanced operators” or search parameters that extend the capabilities of regular text searches. Search operators can be useful for everything from content research to technical SEO audits.

    What are the search operators? ›

    A search operator (sometimes referred to as a search parameter) is a character or string of characters used in a search engine query to narrow the focus of the search. In mathematics and computer science, operators are characters or sequences of characters that represent an action or cause an action to be performed.

    What is the difference between Google search and Google Advanced search? ›

    The Google search box is the default search option for most users. It searches the web using Google's algorithms to find the most relevant results. Advanced search is a more specific search option that lets users narrow down their results by adding filters, such as date range, file type, or location.

    What is search and advanced search? ›

    In a Basic Search, you have just one search field. When performing a Basic Search, you need to connect keywords with Boolean operators (and, or, and not: click here for more information). In contrast, an Advanced Search has three search fields, with the option to add more.

    Where has Google Advanced search gone? ›

    You can find the advanced search in the Settings menu on Google's home page, or on any results page, under Settings/Advanced Search. On the Google Advanced search screen, you can take advantage of "any of these words" for similar concepts.

    What is the hidden Boolean operator in a Google search? ›

    The default and “hidden” Boolean operator in a standard Google search is: AND.

    What are the 3 operators that can be used in search terms? ›

    How to combine search terms: Using AND, OR and NOT. The three most commonly used operators are AND, OR, NOT. These are known as Boolean operators. They can be used to broaden or narrow a search and to exclude unwanted search terms and concepts.

    What are the different types of Google searches? ›

    However, searches can be separated into a number of different search types, with these search types differing from one another in terms of user intent, in particular. It is generally accepted that there are three main search types: transactional searches, navigational searches and informational searches.

    What is the Google related operator? ›

    Find competitors with Google search operators

    To find sites that are similar to your website, you can type [related:yourdomain.com]. REI would use [related:REI.com].

    What does the Google operator site do? ›

    The “site:” operator allows you to search for results from a specific website. In this example, including “site:semrush.com” in your search query will show results only from semrush.com. Many other Google search operators can make your search results more precise. They also have many practical uses for SEO.

    What is Google Advanced Security? ›

    Advanced Protection requires security keys or passkeys for sign in to help protect your Google data, like emails, documents, contacts, or other personal Google data. Even if a hacker has your username and password, they can't sign in without your security key or the device with your passkey.

    What are the benefits of Google advanced search? ›

    One of the major advantages of using Google Advanced Search is the ability to specify exact phrases, exclude certain terms, and even search within a specific website or domain, such as . edu or . gov, which are more likely to yield academic resources.

    Do Boolean operators still work in Google? ›

    Google no longer accepts the use of all Boolean modifiers and operators, so check this page to find out which ones you can use in Google! This guide on Boolean Searching by the Elmer F. Rasmusen Library visualizes Boolean Logic searching using Venn diagrams.

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